Private View: Combining advertising with humor

James Talerico
James Talerico

So many studies prove the health benefits of laughter. And so many humorous campaigns have shown the remarkable advertising success that can be achieved by sharing a smile or two. Yet healthcare advertising and humor rarely sit at the same table.

Combining the two can be  a precarious effort, of course: finding just the right perspective, context and punchline. Calibrating the laugh such that it provides insight and not insult. Even then, you still have to navigate revisions and regulatory, focus group reports as well as feedback from friends and family. ­Holding onto a good joke can be even harder than writing one.

But when a solution to a manageable condition is combined with an inspirational consumer insight, healthcare marketing can deliver a laugh along with an indelible message. Here are a few chuckles and hoots from our international colleagues:


Agency: BorghiErh/Lowe, Sao Paulo, Brazil
The simple comic drawings in this spot from BorghiErh/Lowe in Sao Paulo, Brazil, keep the level of communication light and unmistakably clear. Even in high-conflict, headache-provoking situations, there's one thing that our heroes have in common: a solution.


Bayer Aspirin
Agency: Almap BBDO, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Breaking bones with sticks and stones is commonly accepted. But this piece from BBDO Sao Paulo proves that a headache can be heralded by just a handful of words. And by calling out the ­potential speakers, the piece also gives a reason for moderate and extra strength mes­saging. Kudos.

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Bogotá, Colombia
Everyone knows that even one small pimple can feel like geologic formation, keeping us from enjoying ourselves as well as getting in the way social activities. Never before has this insight been so literally portrayed as in this piece from Colombia.

Agency: Point Blank, India
Size matters. Or does it? This print piece from India plays on men's oldest anxiety in order to offer a solution to men's second oldest anxiety. Funny and memorable in more ways than one.

Agency: Prolam Y&R, Chile
Is this what's become of the Empire? The stolid facades of aging men who have served their time in the trenches of their wives emotional cycles? Insulting? Maybe even sexist? I guess calibrating for insight, not insult, is a subjective matter.

Agency: McCann Bogotá, Colombia
Our hero maintains serene oblivious calm amidst the oscillations of travel in a ­highly-styled, easy-to-understand and magical visual environment. From its idea to its illustration, this whimsical campaign from McCann Bogotá brings a smile to my face each time I see one of its executions.

James Talerico is SVP, Executive Creative Director, at Heartbeat Ideas
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